STARRING: Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, Eli Wallach, Aldo Giuffrè, Mario Brega, Luigi Pistilli, Al Muldock, Antonio Casas, Antonio Casale, Sergio Mendizábal, John Bartha, Claudio Scarchilli, Sandro Scarchilli, Antonio Molino Rojo, Benito Stefanelli, Aldo Sambrell, Lorenzo Robledo, Enzo Petito, Livio Lorenzon, Rada Rassimov and Chelo Alonso
EARNED (Worldwide): $25.1m
A bounty hunting scam joins two men in an uneasy alliance against a third in a race to find a fortune in gold buried in a remote cemetery.
The film takes place during the American Civil War where we follow Tuco and Blonde, two men that are working together to make money off Tuco’s bounty. As a rivalry begins between the two men, they discover a carriage loaded with dead bodies and learn from the only survivor, Bill Carson, that he and his men have buried $200,000 worth in gold. Tuco learns the name of the cemetery while Blonde learns the name of the grave where the gold is buried, thus the two men have to keep each other alive in order to get it. A third man named Angel Eyes enters the race as he hears of the gold stashed from someone he’s been hired to kill.
I’ll admit a horrible truth….I’m not a fan of Westerns. Think it has to do with the childhood upbringing of the relentless rewatches on the television of the almost endless number of John Wayne westerns that would be on virtually every week, forever, that seemed to put me off the genre, as petty as it all sounds typing it out. Finally older and slightly wiser, I’m giving the genre a proper go again and the one that instantly stood out was Sergio Leone’s The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and what I really enjoyed about the film is while the scale of the landscape and it’s surroundings is big in scope (with the American Civil War ever looming in the background of proceedings) the story itself is a rather simple yet trekking task as three men are on a quest for gold. As the buried gold comes into play, shady allegiances and schemes ensue between two former partners Tuco and Blondie, where one says nothing unless it’s necessary and the other who can’t seem to stop talking. The fact that each men only have part of the information needed to locate the gold adds to the tension and stakes as they keep each other alive in order to reach the cemetery and the right tombstone to dig out the gold. Clint Eastwood is the definition of cool as Blondie, a man confident in his gun ability that he doesn’t need to talk and Eli Wallach is just brilliant as Tuco, a man who often acts like a clown in a strategic way and Lee Van Cleef, though with the smallest amount to do in comparison to the other leads, has great presence as Angel Eyes. Leone’s direction and attention to detail is great here from the use of camera angles and also the extreme close ups, particularly in the final act (which has been replicated and parodied to death now), with some terrific cinematography and a tight script. It is also worth mentioning what mades this film stand out even further is Ennio Morricone’s score here, it’s cinematic classic.
FAVOURITE SCENE: The three-way standoff at the cemetery. The tension….the close ups…the score….perfect.
FAVOURITE QUOTE: ‘Blondie: One, two, three, four, five, and six. Six, the perfect number.
Angel Eyes: I thought three was the perfect number.
Blondie: I’ve got six more bullets in my gun.’
DID YOU KNOW?: Eli Wallach was almost poisoned on the set after drinking acid used to burn the bags filled with gold coin to make them rip open easier when struck with the spade. The acid had been poured into a lemon soda bottle and Wallach didn’t know it. He drank a lot of milk and filmed the scene with a mouth full of sores. Clint Eastwood wore the same poncho through all three “Man with No Name” movies without replacement or cleaning.